View Full Version : Why are there no Single Actions with swing out cylinders?

June 29, 2011, 09:01 PM
Just out of curiosity, why don't I see any single action revolvers with swing out cylinders? I've been around them and just accepted that they are fixed, but never understood why that is so. Is it just to keep it "traditional"?

June 30, 2011, 12:07 AM
This thought crossed my mind the other day and I can't think of a single good reason other than to "keep it traditional".

The single action market is a very specific one, and people that buy these guns want the original design. Plus, any double action revolver with an exposed hammer can be fired single action anyway.

June 30, 2011, 12:13 AM
Yeah, I wonder why too!
I love the single actions and it does seem like it would be simple enough to make one with a swing out cylinder.

H&R had one, but only in .22, but showed it was darn possible.

The closest thing I have found is my Colt official Police from 1932.
It still has that old time flavor, and yet has the DA swing out cylinder.
Still feels old time western on my hip!
Or maybe one of the early Smith ejector models.
That's on my list as well!

But a Single action with swing out cylinder, I would be first in line!

Ideal Tool
June 30, 2011, 12:56 AM
Hello, cackalak. High Standard Corp. brought out a nine shot .22 single action with swing out cyl....And I bet you thought Ruger was the first with a nine shot S.A.? Nope H.S. beat them by 53 years..yup 1958!

38 Super Fan
June 30, 2011, 01:09 AM
You mean like this? ;)


June 30, 2011, 01:14 AM
I got it backwards.
yeah, High Standard had one, but the H & R 949 is a gate loading double action
that looks like an old west single action.

June 30, 2011, 04:51 AM
Dan Wesson made 22 single action and they may have made a 38 but not sure used for plate shooting

June 30, 2011, 05:12 AM
yeah, High Standard had one,

Actually, if it's the model I'm thinking of, it was just designed to look like a single action, but shared the same lockwork as the DA Sentinel.

June 30, 2011, 05:33 AM
S&W has made couple, offhand I can't remember which but they where SA versions of DA/SA models.

June 30, 2011, 06:42 AM
S&W has made couple, offhand I can't remember which but they where SA versions of DA/SA models.

Model 14

Jim Watson
June 30, 2011, 06:50 AM
Confirm gyvel, the High Standard Double Nine was a DA faked up to look like a SA. Double Nine, get it? What looked like an ejector rod thumbpiece was actually the cylinder latch.

Colt and S&W built some swing out cylinder single actions but they were just Officers Model Match and K38 with SA hammer and trigger. You could convert either way by replacing the hammer and trigger.

Professional trick shooter Gus Peret had a total custom swing out SA built, with a S&W M&P barrel, cylinder, and yoke plus Colt SAA hammer, trigger, and grip straps on a gunsmith machined frame. He liked the feel of the SAA but needed faster reloading when putting on an exhibition shoot with Peters, later Remington ammunition.

June 30, 2011, 09:52 AM
...that the solution to the problem would far outweigh its benefit.

A single action has a one-piece frame. Converting the frame to a swing-out cylinder quite literally weakens one of the advantages of the design. It's one of the reasons why Model 29 S&W's aren't as strong as Ruger Blackhawks.

The design would also need to have something done to the existing cylinder rod, and its function.

SA's are balanced differently. The bore axis is closer to the hand in the SA, further in the DA. The trigger mechanism must be more complicated to go to DA, and that would enlarge the frame.

One would then have a SA-looking revolver with the price of a DA revolver.

June 30, 2011, 11:49 AM
Basically, because there's no really good reason to do so. DA preceded swing-out cylinders in the evolution of the revolver and by the time swing-out cylinders came about, DA revolvers had already largely supplanted SA revolvers. The whole point of a swing-out cylinder is more rapid reloading for combat or self-defense. SA revolvers have not been most people's choice of a fighting handgun for over 100 years, so there's been no real need for a SA wheelgun that can be reloaded rapidly. The swing-out cylinder was and has always been a compromise between the speed of a top-break and the strength and versatility of a gate-loader. Top-breaks are the fastest type of revolver to reload, but they are the weakest frame design and are limited by their mechanism in the length of cartridge than can be fully extracted. Gate loaders on the other hand are the strongest frame design and can be adapted to very long and powerful cartridges, but they are also the slowest to load and unload. The swing-out cylinder offers the ability to use longer and more powerful cartridges than a top break (though they still can't handle the same power cartridge as a gate-loader of comparable size) while allowing much faster loading and unloading than a gate-loader (though they're still not quite as fast as a top-break).

The main users of SA revolvers for the past century or so have been hunters and participants in competitions like long-range silhouette shooting, both purposes that don't require speedy reloading. Also, modifying the design of a SA revolver to accomodate a swing-out cylinder would negate many of the advantages of a SA design. As pendennis pointed out, a swing-out cylinder would eliminate the strength advantage of the SA revolver as well as alter the balancing characteristics that so many people like. In addition, gate-loaders are also more easily adaptable to a wider variety of cartridges without the need for moonclips or a major redesign of the gun. In a swing-out cylinder revolver, the rim of the cartridge is used for both headspacing and extraction. A gate-loading revolver, however, uses the rim only for headspacing. This means that with absolutely no modification to the design, a SA can work just just fine with both rimmed and semi-rimmed cartridges. Also, by simply headspacing on the case mouth, a gate-loading revolver can be adapted to a rimless cartridge without the need for moonclips. Finally, fast-reloading SA revolvers is already pretty well covered by top-breaks such as the S&W Model 3 so long as you can live with the restrictions in power and cartridge length.

July 15, 2011, 07:53 AM
High standard double nine.

July 15, 2011, 08:08 AM
If you read any Stephen King there are single actions with swing out cylinders, but only in his world.

July 15, 2011, 09:37 AM
Lack of demand. There have been a few made but they are not too common. Also, the ability to shoot most large double actions in swingle action fills the gap for the majority.

July 15, 2011, 10:14 AM
I heard a rumor that Uberti was gearing up to make some, but I have not heard whether or not the project is still going on/moving forward. I certainly haven't seen any for sale yet.

July 15, 2011, 10:40 AM
No reason to do so. If you want a swing out cylinder just buy a double action and fire it in single action mode.

July 15, 2011, 11:35 AM
No reason to do so. Really that is answer. The Single Action is a simple robust design that just doesn't need changing/updating . A classic fantastic, beautiful design. It is what it is! I think you'll find that most single action guys (like me) think that way.

If you want swing out cylinders, there are plenty of choices out there... and most can be shot single action (that is how I always shot my SRH before I finally sold it).

James K
July 15, 2011, 03:13 PM
The real reason is that most SA's were either designed before the side swing cylinder was developed or are made to imitate the older guns. A side-swing single action is certainly possible, and they have been made (the Winchester-Wetmore-Wood is an example), but making one today would be pointless; the SA fans want the look and feel of the traditional SA, while users of swing out modern revolvers want DA.

As to the idea that the SA configuration is stronger than the DA, that is not true. Ruger revolvers no stronger than equivalent caliber S&W or Colt DA's; they are bulkier because Ruger has to use more steel to make up for the lesser inherent strength of cast frames. And certainly the old iron frames of the pre-1900 Colts were very weak, which is why some are still being blown by folks who feed them smokeless powder loads.


Jim Watson
July 15, 2011, 04:58 PM
I just recalled, Hamilton Bowen will do a Sedgley Lift-Out Cylinder conversion on a Ruger and might be talked into doing it on a USFA SAA.

Not a swingout, the cylinder lifts out through the loading gate like normal SAA field stripping, but once you have it out, there is a DA type extractor rod and star. Punch out six empties at once, reload, reinstall. Kind of a gimmick but it recreates a gimmick of nearly 90 years ago. And for only $2995.

July 16, 2011, 01:25 AM
All I know is that if Uberti was to take that plunge- I would likely jump in line, especially if it were on the Remington 1875/1890 type or similar action.

James K
July 16, 2011, 08:00 PM
Wanna bet? If someone today actually made a SA with a swing out cylinder, buyers would stay away in droves because it would not be "traditional". ;)


July 17, 2011, 12:07 AM
I know that I would seriously consider one. I have most of the double action revolvers that I felt I HAD to have (although there are certainly more that i would buy if I can afford to), and I feel like single action grip frames reduce recoil more for me than the double action grip frames do because of the way they roll up better. So I have been thinking about getting a 357 or 44 mag single action sometime in the next year or two, but I am not a big fan of the loading gate/ejector rod setup. A quality SA revolver with a swing out cylinder would be the best of both worlds for me in magnum calibers.

July 19, 2011, 11:49 AM
...a double action mechanism built in to a base pin mounted cylinder that loads through a gate?

The srength of the SA design with the flexibility of firing SA or DA.

Just had to ask it.

July 19, 2011, 01:21 PM
I had a crazy idea once about modifying a Ruger Blackhawk .45Colt cylinder to where it would take .45ACP half-moon clips....just roll out the cylinder to load & unload....it'd be quicker than single-loading....and you'd still have a dual-caliber gun without having to tote an extra cylinder around.....

July 25, 2011, 12:57 AM
I know someone is making single actions with swing out cylinders as I just saw a bunch being used in "Rango". Maybe contact the illustrators and ask what make and model they are.

July 25, 2011, 03:41 PM
Good question, never thought of it...but I'd sure buy one !

July 25, 2011, 07:45 PM
I agree with the make it yourself method. I was originally looking into the mooncliptool for use with my S&W 1917, but in the end my brother and I made a loading tool (similar in basic design to mooncliptool) out of some wood, a piece of 1/2" aluminum bar, and a small piece of copper pipe to hold the clips in place. A demooning tool can easily and cheaply be made by another piece of copper pipe by cutting off half of the end to make a semi-circle piece hanging off of the main circular tube. Just place over a round until the semi-circle is past the clip itself and twist.

Both tools took some getting used to, and we had to make a second loading tool when the first didn't quite line up properly, but they were still much cheaper than anything ordered online and I had completed tools in a couple hours instead of waiting several days for shipping.

Sneaky Potato
August 18, 2011, 11:27 PM
If you read any Stephen King there are single actions with swing out cylinders, but only in his world.

Hahaha that is seriously exactly what I was thinking. Love the Dark Tower. Its what got me into single actions in the first place

"Stand, and be true."

August 19, 2011, 08:44 PM
In the movie Rango, Johnny Depp's character Rango had one.;)